Cannabis, My Family, and I

by Erin Hayes-Oliver about a month ago in humanity

The Beginning of Everything.

Cannabis, My Family, and I

I was born and raised in Texas, and I am a mother, wife, homeschooler, photographer, waitress, and cannabis advocate. I wasn't raised in the cannabis community, actually the opposite. I grew up in the 90s and I was taught as a child that drugs were bad, and pot wasn't just any drug. It was a gateway drug. I was taught that if I tried pot, it would lead me to using all of the other drugs like crystal meth, etc. The schools, the media, even my family taught me that.

In 2004, at the age of eighteen, my mother and I split paths. She came up here to Alaska, and I remained in Houston, TX. I ended up in The Covenant House, a halfway house for teens, and it was there that I got my first taste of the real world. I realized very quickly that I wasn't as smart as I originally thought I was; it was a real struggle to cope.

After my first week there, I met the boy that would end up becoming my husband. He's the one responsible for teaching me how to handle real life, and he was a stoner. We would leave the Covenant House and go meet up with some of his friends and they would smoke while I kept watch. I didn't approve of it, but I began to notice the subtle differences in his mood when he was stoned.

After a month of being in the Covenant House, I got kicked out. He and one of his friends left that same night to keep me safe. I got my first true taste of reality in those first few nights, but I still did not smoke pot.

It took a year of being homeless before I smoked my first joint. I still remember what strain it was; California Sunshine. He offered me a hit like he always did, even knowing I didn't smoke. It wasn't forceful, he simply offered me a hit every time he smoked, out of habit. I finally relented and took a puff.

From that point on, I was his smoking partner. Once he told his friends, I was thrown into the deep end of the pool, so to speak. Everyone around me had been smoking for twelve plus years and I was told to keep up. Thus, my first few months of smoking are still really fuzzy. I remember going on quite a few stoner walks, lots of bowls, joints, blunts and bongs. I didn't notice the benefits of marijuana at first. I just knew it helped me feel better in general.

In 2005, we got married. It was then that I realized exactly how much pot helped him. He'd been on heavy psych medications since I'd known him. He also suffered from seizures that happened at least three times a week, sometimes more. I noticed how some types of pot helped his seizures and how some types helped his mood. So, I began to ask questions. What was Sativa, what was Indica. Whats this called, whats that called. He quickly picked up on my interest and began feeding me information.

I learned the difference between Indicas and Sativas. I also started learning what helped him and what didn't. He was content to smoke whatever was offered, while I was starting to become picky. In Texas, street prices are a lot cheaper than here in Alaska. We could buy an ounce for only sixty five bucks. Forty bucks if you knew the guy.

In 2006, while we were living in San Antonio, I became pregnant. I initially stopped smoking to keep the baby safe, still believing that it could harm the child. I suffered from a lack of appetite. I couldn't eat very much or I would throw up, and I began to loose weight. We moved back to Houston when I was about five months along, and I began to see an OB/GYN. He instructed me to start smoking again to increase my appetite. He didn't say it in exactly those words, but that was the message.

Following doctor's orders, I started smoking, and that led to eating healthy again. Our son was born a very healthy 7 lbs 8 oz. He developed quickly, rolling over for the first time at a mere three months old. By the time he was six months, he was standing and by eight months, he was walking.

In 2007, I got pregnant again with our daughter. This time, cannabis helped me contain my mood swings. I was very volatile during that pregnancy, and everyone kept pot around me at all times. "Gotta keep the crazy pregnant woman calm somehow" is what my husband told me many times.

I suffered a severe case of postpartum depression after the birth of our daughter, so I felt hopeless. Nothing seemed to help. My husband searched for a strain that would help me, and together, we discovered Blueberry Kush. It really helped me mellow out and I slowly overcame my depression.

In 2008, I had my first experience with hash. We joined the Renaissance Fair and I was introduced to the cannabis community there. I met glass blowers, silversmiths, blacksmiths, and other stoners like me. I was gradually learning that pot didn't make everyone lazy and stupid the way I had been led to believe growing up. For some, it actually helped them become or remain functional.

In 2009, I became pregnant once again with our youngest son. In 2010, we suffered an apartment fire that left us homeless. Ironically, my mother called me from Alaska asking for help. She'd just had knee replacement and didn't have anyone to help her while she healed. So we moved to Anchorage.

We didn't know anyone for the first couple of months we were here, and, I'm not gonna lie, it was hard. Our son was born in June of 2010, and it was about a month after that we made our first connection. It was also then that we found out exactly how expensive it is up here. I soon discovered that the rule of quality over quantity was important.

As we began to make new friends, new opportunities appeared. We made new connections, and started learning about the process of growing marijuana. I honestly never thought so much effort went into the wonderful buds that I had been smoking. I started learning about concentrates, CBDs, oils, and so much more.

As I began more research into the CBDs, I realized that I'd finally found something that could really help with my husbands seizures. So, I hunted around the internet and found a trial. For a solid month, my husband was almost normal. His seizures stopped completely.

For as long as I've known him, he's been on heavy amounts of tranquilizers and mood stabilizers. He's diagnosed with Bipolar 2, severe PTSD, and possible IED (intermittent explosive anger disorder). With the constant supply of THC and CBD, his mood stabilized and he's now an active dad.

I also learned that CBDs relieve pain without getting high. As a waitress, working with back pain is not fun. Bus tubs get heavy, and let's not begin to discuss food laden plates. Out of three pregnancies, I had two epidurals. There were days when it hurt just to sit up in bed in the morning. I also suffer from joint pain due to a very active life.

I trained horses while I was in high school and suffered the worst of my injuries while riding one day. I was six weeks in a knee immobilizer. From 2007 to 2010, I was a pedicab driver. In 2008, I was hit by a truck on my bicycle and knocked a nerve cluster out of place behind my right knee. Both injuries make moving around tough some days.

When my pain started effecting my job, enough was enough. Opiates left me feeling sick and unable to function in day to day life. So, I started asking the dispensaries for strains that helped with pain. Once again, I was surprised to learn that there were a number of strains that had high counts of CBD. I was also introduced to a number of CBD-infused pain creams that work wonders.

Recently, I've taken up photography. My family and I love to go hiking and camping, and I love taking pictures. Friends and family in the lower forty eight have commented on the pictures I've shared on social media, so I took a leap of faith and started putting my photos up for sale online. A few sales later and I had the idea of combining the two and creating new photos centered around the marijuana plant.

I started approaching different dispensaries around town, asking them for permission to take some photos of their plants with the promise of first choice on any and all photos I put up for sale. Most of them have said their plants aren't big enough yet, but that when they are, I can. Back in August, I was the sponsored artist at one of our downtown locations, and even managed to make a sale.

My goal is to help bring the cannabis community out of the shadows and show the world that not all of us fall under their favorite stereotype of stoner.

humanity
Erin Hayes-Oliver
Erin Hayes-Oliver
Read next: Top Stoner TV Shows